Most of the colonists who settled in the future United States in the early 1600s brought along British governing traditions. The Magna Carta (1215) theoretically set limits on the British monarchy, and an evolving British common law brought a measure of legal predictability and fairness. The religious dissenters who colonized New England also imported Calvinist views about a well-run polity. For the Pilgrims and the Puritans, religious covenants, or collective oaths, were essential for building communities and political obligations. The Mayflower Compact of 1620,...
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